(Contributed)                                Construction continues on the Burnett Street modular homes, to be called Garibaldi Ridge.

(Contributed) Construction continues on the Burnett Street modular homes, to be called Garibaldi Ridge.

Update: Maple Ridge, province talk long-term housing for homeless

MLA says government trying to respond

Maple Ridge and the B.C. government are continuing to talk to try to reach agreement on how to deal with homelessness and housing in the city.

Last Thursday, Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden, along with Couns. Chelsa Meadus and Ryan Svendsen met with Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson and MLA Bob D’Eith (Maple Ridge-Mission).

“We had a good update,” D’Eith said Tuesday.

He added the city and the province are still trying to agree on a model and location of a permanent supportive housing facility and shelter in Maple Ridge.

“There are some properties in play,” D’Eith said.

Once located, the 53-bed temporary modular supportive housing on Royal Crescent, opened last October, would close, as would the 51-bed temporary supportive housing complex now under construction on Burnett Street.

Both sites are temporary.

Once a permanent supportive housing location is found, the Burnett Street property will be used for a seniors’ residence, D’Eith added.

“We’re listening to what the city wants to do and hopefully, we can deliver on that,” D’Eith said.

The site on Burnett Street is being built to house the present and past residents of Anita Place Tent City, which was vacated March 1 upon fire safety orders.

Only a handful of people since have been allowed to return.

However, Morden said Wednesday that council is still opposed to a low-barrier facility on Burnett Street, where residents can use drugs on the premises, as is the case at Royal Crescent modular facility.

“The purpose of this is to launch what council’s envisioned. We’re not talking about low-barrier housing here. We’re talking about treatment. And we’re talking about detox facilities and were talking about transitional housing in an abstinence-based environment,” Morden added.

The city has asked Coast Mental Health to ensure that a higher level of abstinence occurs at the Burnett Street facility.

Morden said there will be more of a mental health focus in that facility. Usually, Fraser Health doesn’t permit substance use in its mental health or drug treatment facilities, he added.

However, Susan Hancock, senior manager of communications and community development with Coast Mental Health, said the Burnett Street site, to be called Garibaldi Ridge, will be low-barrier, and will follow a similar model as Royal Crescent.

“At Coast Mental Health, we offer a number of different housing models to meet our clients’ needs. Some of these facilities are low-barrier, but many are not,” she said in an e-mail.

“B.C. Housing has asked Coast Mental Health to meet the needs of the homeless in Maple Ridge. People who opt to live at Garibaldi Ridge, the official name of the Burnett site, will require time to adjust and address their critical health concerns, which may include substance use. Garibaldi Ridge will provide people with a safe space to address their substance use and access health-care services for their recovery.”

As for a permanent supportive housing facility, Morden said the city is discussing three possible locations, as it and the province try to agree on an operating model.

He said there are six people remaining at Anita Place Tent City and that he asked that the intensive case management team, operated by Fraser Health, assists in finding places to live for the remaining occupants.

Morden also said that maintaining security at Anita Place is costing the city $40,000 a month.

The government announced in March it was setting up a temporary supportive housing complex on Burnett St. after giving the city a week to name its own location.

At that time, Robinson rejected the city’s social housing plan, saying the city hadn’t come up with a workable solution for supportive housing and that it had been told the Royal Crescent temporary modular housing site can’t be expanded due to property size and slope restrictions.

D’Eith tweeted out a photo of last week’s meeting: ” … rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work with Maple Ridge city council and (Municipal Affairs and Housing) Minister @selinarobinson fixing the housing mess left in our community by the B.C. Liberals.”

Robinson, in a tweet, called it a “productive meeting, talking about how we are working together to deliver a range of housing for those in their community.”



pmelnychuk@mapleridgenews.com

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